Jason McGregor makes music full-time. A member of the Lamplights and touring with Adam Brand, he also has his own five-piece band (called the Jason McGregor band) and he’s touring a show called Rumour Has It – a cabaret about Adele. He does “all the other solo things” too – performing a mix of originals and covers. When he shows up to his interview he’s come straight from one set to pick up his kids during a three-hour break – before he has to go back.
He’s toured around Europe, done trips to festivals in Germany and Italy, delivered clinics for music stores, had endorsements from Fender and Maton and been named a national fingerstyle guitar champion. But what Jason loves most of all, is people.
“What I love about any gig anywhere is connecting with people,” he said. “That’s my challenge – whether at a market or a festival, or a corporate – I’m always looking for someone to connect with.”
And although Jason plays a mix of originals and covers, he says that because of his skills on guitar, he can arrange those songs however he wants.
“I make my own versions of everything,” he said. “I keep the essence of songs there but always put my own spin on it.”
“I have to have a balance. I can’t just be doing cover gigs. But I have so many projects on the books it helps keep me sane.”
Jason started playing guitar when he was 16 and his uncle gave him a Tommy Emanuel CD. He hadn’t been playing long but was adamanant he was going to play like Tommy. He didn’t have internet or youtube.
“Then (later) I’d grab these programs to slow the songs down and work them out,” he said. “Then I’d watch their hands and realise I got stuff wrong.”
“Eventually I met people who knew a thing of two who’d show me stuff, but really for the most part, I’d work it out for myself.”
“It’s a handy trait to have when you’ve got to learn a band’s repertoire in a short amount of time,” he laughed.
Like many musicians here, Jason is passionate about the Gold Coast and the community he’s a part of. Originally moving here six years ago and meeting Ryan (Gittoes) and Ash Perrow from the Lamplights soon after, he says he saw Gold Coast as being real community.
“Nowhere I lived in Brisbane was ever like that – I wanted to be here enough to contribute to it,” he said.
“People move to the Gold Coast for lifestyle –people go out. You put on a community event and people go to it. They engage. You just have to give them a decent reason – part of my living and lifestyle is giving people a reason to go out. That is a genuine point of diff of the Goldie,” he said.
Jason says winning the People’s Choice Award at the Gold Coast Music Awards was always about community.
“For me, that whole reason of moving down here was to be part of the community and winning was a small token that I’m doing my job.”
What’s next for Jason McGregor? He’s writing music, has a studio set up in Brisbane and is in the process of having two singles ready to go in January. That’s part of his new five-piece project. He says it’s a different sound.
“I like the organic element of my acoustic guitar, but I really like pop stuff. I like mixing more electronic rhythmic elements – but it’s unashamedly pop – I like writing catchy songs, it’s a mix of the funky stuff and contemporary pop.”
Jason’s new music will be available from all the usual spots in the new year, and keep an eye out for the single launches. He’s thinking outside of the box for those.
IMAGE (c) Lamp Photography